Who: Hull City AFC Chelsea FC
What: English Premier League Week 21
Where: The KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England, United Kingdom
When: Saturday, January 11, 2014
Weather: The Weather Channel Hull forecast
Time: 12:45 GMT/7:45 a.m. ET/4:45 a.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Network,NBC Sports Live Extra, Telemundo (US); BBC One, BT Sport 1 (UK)
Worldwide Livestreams and TV Channels: LiveSoccerTV.com
Radio: SiriusXM FC SIRI 94 (Internet channel 94), BBC Radio 5 Live, TalkSport Radio
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
3-Way Odds: Hull City +550, Chelsea -185, Draw +300
Total: Over 2½ Even, Under 2½ -130
Decimal Odds: Hull City 6.50, Chelsea 1.54, Draw 4.00
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 2.00, Under 2½ 1.77
Fractional Odds: Hull City 11/2, Chelsea 20/37, Draw 3/1
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 11/10, Under 2½ 10/13
Alternate Odds: Hull City +1 -130, Chelsea -1 Even
Over 3½ +250, Under 3½ -350
Odds To Win EPL: Chelsea 10/3, Hull City N/A
Source: Bovada (Kahnawake, Canada)
3-Way Odds: Hull City +561, Chelsea -166, Draw +308
Total: Over 2½ +109, Under 2½ -130
Source: Pinnacle Sports (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles)
A refreshingly confident Chelsea will travel to Kingston upon Hull on Saturday to play feisty Hull City in the opening game on the English Premier League schedule this weekend and a rematch of the season opener, won by the Blues, 2-0.
Manager Jose Mourinho seemingly has third-place Chelsea (13-4-3, 43 points) playing in top form, with the West London club riding the wave of a five-game unbeaten streak in all competitions (4-0-1) in which the Blues and goalkeeper Petr Cech have allowed only one goal (Liverpool), so both players and fans alike are really enjoying this oh-so familiar feeling to start off 2014.
Hull City (6-5-9, 23 points) enter the game in a respectable 10th place in the Premier League table and Steve Bruce’s Tigers have been fairly protective of their home KC Stadium turf so far, going 5-3-2 at home and tied with heavies Arsenal, City and Liverpool for having allowed the least number of goals at home (6), thanks in great part to the stellar play goalkeeper Allan McGregor and the staunch Hull defense.
The Tigers had scored just seven goals in their first eight home games but then suddenly exploded for eight over the next two matches—six coming in a 6-0 home pasting of Fulham in which Ahmed Elmohamady, Robert Koren (2), George Boyd, Tom Huddlestone and Matty Fryatt all scored as the club recorded its biggest-ever victory in the Premier League.
In their last EPL game, Hull were shut out by Liverpool, 2-0 at Anfield on New Year’s Day while in their last appearance in all competitions, the Tigers eliminated Middlesbrough 2-0 in the third round of the FA Cup on Jan. 4, Hull will now face League Two side Southend United at Roots Hall in the fourth round of the tournament on Jan. 25.
As noted, Europa League champions Chelsea head into this fixture flying pretty high and playing solidly both on offense and defense—at least for the moment—with Cech, captain John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, Eden Hazard and Oscar all playing some inspired football for their new Portuguese manager and renowned spiritual healer. Can I get an amen?
And after hearing about not having a striker who scored a road goal in the calendar year 2013, the Blues quickly put out that long-raging fire when Fernando Torres picked up a road tally in Chelsea’s 3-0 New Year’s Day win over Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Here against the Tigers, the Blues will be without the services of midfielder Frank Lampard (muscle) and defender Branislav Ivanovic (knee) who will both reportedly be out for the entire month, while midfielder Marco van Ginkel is out and still recovering from an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee against Swindon Town on Sept. 24 and will be out for the foreseeable future.
Possession-wise, look for the visitors to hold a slight edge and logic dictates that Chelsea will end up getting more shots on goal than the Tigers. And if the Blues eventually get a one- or a two-goal lead, expect The Special One to substitute defensively and try to get out of East Riding of Yorkshire with three points and this welcome momentum sustained.
Looking at this matchup from a betting perspective, the historical trends—the Blues are 23-7-4 lifetime against the Tigers (65-20 goals) as well as a noteworthy, although insignificant, unbeaten 13-3-0 in SW6 (32-3 goals)—are just too overpowering. Combined with the Blues’ second-best form in the Premier League (4-1-1 last six) and Hull’s below average play recently (1-3-2 last six), prefer to play the road favorites and lay the very fair price.
And figuring that Chelsea can win by at least two goals here, employing a three-pronged approach would look like a very wise way to start the day, Woodsy should the Blues end up winning by two goals or more although scoring at KC Stadium against this lot should be more than a challenge at least at first.
Next up on Chelsea's schedule is a Jan. 19 date at Stamford Bridge with defending league champions Manchester United—which, much to the delight of fans of every other team in the EPL, have started out the new year with three straight losses (Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City and Sunderland)—in what appears to be a much more important fixture at this particular point in time for the seventh-place Red Devils and much-maligned manager David Moyes than it does to be for the Blues.
The coming weeks certainly promise to entertain.
PREDICTION: Hull City 0 Chelsea 2
BETS: Chelsea -185, Chelsea -1 Even, Chelsea -1½ +175
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